Phoebe Knowles is a full time mom and the VP of the Roger Smith Hotel. As a leader in hospitality, she chaired the Women in Lodging NYC chapter, an organization which highlights and connects women in the hospitality industry. Despite her busy schedule, Phoebe is an avid reader and finds the time to read a good book. We asked Phoebe on her book recommendations by female authors and she joyfully shared her must reads ranging from classics to autobiographies, including ones that will empower women for generations to come. We hope you enjoy!
1- A Classic
What makes a book a classic? So I am not sure what makes a book a classic…not sure if it has to have been around for a certain number of years, or if it needs to have sold a certain number of copies or if it had to have been translated into a certain number of languages…
Regardless, I am sure that Eat Pray Love is (or will be when enough time has passed) a classic!
Described on GoodReads as “An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change…”
Liz Gilbert’s journey in this book is the definition of empowerment.
2 – A Best Seller
This is a great book! The empowering story of a woman whose public persona we all know, and who, through this book, brings us into her inner world, her origin story, describing her path, her vulnerabilities, her breakthrough moments and all with the grace and warmth that I – and many Americans – have come to love in her and her husband.
She is the first black First Lady, she is a professional (JD), she is a mother of two. She is flawed and real and relatable and wonderful. We learn about her journey of self-discovery as she begins to understand her role as First Lady and the immense “soft power” that she has in that role, which she ultimate uses to advance her commitment to encouraging healthy lifestyle choices for all Americans and her global Let Girls Learn initiative.
Who she is, personally, who she has become to us as a country and the positive impact she has had and continues to have combine to make her autobiography a must read (or a must listen – Michelle herself reads the audiobook…and it’s amazing!).
3 – The one you would like your daughter to read
I loved this book. It made me laugh, it made me think and it spoke directly to me. I look forward to my daughters being old enough to read it so we can giggle together…it makes light of serious topics like going through puberty, women and body image, and career choices – not minimizing them, but removing taboos, normalizing, humanizing and lightening the drama otherwise surrounding these topics. There is also a thread through out that gives an inside perspective on the comedic landscape of the time, the back office culture of Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, etc.). Tina Fey is a master…She is hysterical and this book is gold.
4 – The book that changed my perspective
This is a dystopian novel set in New England in a not too far off future. It is terrifying.The story is told from the perspective of a women who we see existing in various forms of subjugation within an extreme patriarchal society. She and the other women who we come to know through out the book live publicly within the rigid confines of their assigned roles and functions in the society – but privately they seek moments of rebellion and independence, eye contact when it is forbidden or a message scratched into the wall. Things are so bad for women in this world that a single match hidden in a mattress is in itself a symbol of empowerment for the protagonist; because of it, she has power, she has choice.
This cautionary tale provokes contemplation on subjects of gender, of power, and of individualism and serves as a warning blast alerting us to what could be if some of our more troubling social problems were to continue to grow (fertility decline, destruction of natural world, fear of the other, religious zealotry, etc.).
5 – One that is light and playful yet still empowering
I recently reread this book and loved it all over again. This historical novel is set on the British Island of Guernsey during the German occupation and tells the story of a group of people who come together – in a dark historical moment – to form a tight community over a love of reading and support for each other. This story honors the power of friendship, of family, of home, of memory, of story-telling and of reading as life sustaining elements.
In the San Francisco Chronicle’s book review it states, “This is a book for firesides or long train rides. It’s as charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love”.